Newbie here, with a sick hen making yelping gasping sounds


Aug 5, 2016
Hello everyone,

Two days ago we became owners of a new house in the SF East Bay, with a chicken coop and 7 egg-laying hens happily living in it! The previous owner gave me an extremely quick explanation of what to do with them, but I am realizing that that was woefully short for a newbie like me. Now, two days later, we haven't moved in yet, and one of the hens has already been found this evening making quite worrying gasping sounds, that sound almost like yelping, as if having trouble breathing. Every once a while she also shakes violently the head and then calms down. I am attaching a video of the poor hen showing these symptoms (WARNING: some people may find it disturbing).


I've been asking friends, and looking online, including on this forum, for answers, and some hints could be pointing to gapeworms, while others to some respiratory infection. The other six hens seem unaffected, luckily. As I said, I am a total newbie, so much that I never had even a pet in my adult life (maybe a fish or two as a kid). No idea of how to find/choose vets, if they are at all necessary in this case, where to find medicines for chickens, and in general where to find help.The previous owner only mentioned the Pet Store Express where she buys the feed.

So, sorry if my following questions should sound too obvious to the more expert people on the group.
1) Is the hen dying or just sick?
2) Should I keep her away from the other hens to avoid them getting sick as well?
3) Should I look for a veterinary tomorrow (Friday, full day at work) or can I wait until Saturday?
4) Should I do some of the additional diagnostic checks suggested online for gapeworms? I admit being a bit grossed out by the idea of putting Qtips down the throat of a hen to see if I pull out gross red worms...
5) Anything else we could do to help her?

Thanks so much, and I hope to be able to participate soon on this forums with more positive messages :)

PS: positive note, we already made our first yummy 6-egg omelette!
She sounds like she may possibly have a respiratory disease. Infectious bronchitis is the most common one, followed by mycoplasma (MG,) coryza, ILT, and aspergillosis. Here is a good link to read about the various common diseases including the ones above:
Sometimes chickens will gasp and sneeze from dusty feed, but if she continues this, I would probably isolate her and give some oxytetracycline in her water for 7 days.If there is only sneezing, IB would be most likely, and that has to run it's course over 3-4 weeks. MG may cause those symptoms, plus foamy eye drainage or swelling around an eye. Coryza may cause foul smelling thick nasal mucus, coughing, and swollen pus filled eyes.

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